Transformation or ‘training the dog’? Approaches to access within an historically white university in South Africa

Dina Zoe Belluigi*, Gladman Thondhlana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

7 Downloads (Pure)


This chapter provides insights into the intractable ethico-political nature of ‘access’ in post-colonial, post-conflict higher education (HE), through the reflections of Black academics and women academics who have lived experience of the minority-majority transitions of academic communities in post-apartheid South Africa. To address the lack of ‘diversity’ of under-represented demographics within historically white institutions, those institutions who provided access to these hand-picked academics did so requiring that they undergo rigorous professional development and socialisation programmes for the purposes of assuring their quality. Critical discourse analyses were undertaken of the qualitative responses of these academics made in response to a questionnaire on this subject, which were then confirmed and deepened within small group discussions. In this chapter we discuss how their responses revealed: (1) the mis-educational reception of structural access for troubling homogeneous institutional cultures; (2) the risks encountered in the politics of belonging of an individual’s access for success; and (3) the problematic weight of transformative expectations when conditions mitigate against empowering agents access to challenge. Situated within an historical narrative of academic development and the national drives in that country for an HE sector ‘transformed’ from its historical legacies of injustice and inequality, the chapter highlights the implications of these three constructions of access for disrupting the machinations of the hidden macro- and meso-curricula of power and whiteness.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTo be a minority teacher in a foreign culture: an international perspective
EditorsMary Gutman, Wurud Jayusi , Michael Beck , Zvi Bekerman
ISBN (Print)9783031255830, 9783031255861
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2023


  • higher education
  • universities
  • academics
  • affirmative action
  • redress
  • change
  • inequality


Dive into the research topics of 'Transformation or ‘training the dog’? Approaches to access within an historically white university in South Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this